By Tasha Ramsey
Populism, a political discourse that promises to empower and include the poor and the excluded, is one of the most important political forces in Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. According to Dr. Carlos de la Torre, a sociology professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, populism is “a Manichaean political rhetoric that aims to rupture the existing institutional system to include the excluded.”
Carlos de la Torre received his Ph.D. in sociology at the New School for Social Research, New York, in 1993. He has been a fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Fulbright Foundation. Since 1989 he has published on the relationship between populism, authoritarianism and democratization.
Dr. de la Torre released his new book titled, “De Velasco a Correa, insurrecciones, populismo, y elecciones en Ecuador 1944-2013,” in July 2015. A compilation of essays published outside of Ecuador and some written in English over a span of 20 years, the book takes a look at different insurrections, elections and populist leaders in Ecuador during the years 1944 to 2013.
Starting with José María Velasco Ibarra, a five-time elected former president and ending with Rafael Correa, the current Ecuadorian president, the book analyzes elections in which these politicians used populist rhetoric and came to power and insurrections made on behalf of the people and against political elites. According to Dr. de la Torre, populism is inclusionary when out of power, yet once it arrives to government populist leaders such as Velasco and Correa “do not tolerate being criticized by the public and do not like social movements if they do not uncritically support their policies.”
By publishing this book in Spanish, Dr. de la Torre made accessible his essays, which up until now were difficult to find or were only available in English, to the Ecuadorian academic community. In doing so, Dr. de la Torre hopes to show “the ambiguities of populism primarily between the promises of incorporation of the people and the authoritarian practices in power.”